Lufthansa rising

Lufthansa's cargo strategy included adding five 777Fs to its fleet.

Lufthansa’s cargo strategy included adding five 777Fs to its fleet. Photo: Alex Kwanten

April results from many of the world’s major cargo carriers are now available, and today we look at the three big European combination carriers.

In recent years, all three have been faced with increased competition from carriers in the Gulf Region, Turkey, and Russia; and each has adopted a different strategy to cope. We analyzed these strategies in an earlier post, but given the results of the first four months of this year, it looks like Lufthansa is succeeding and IAG is on the verge of success. As to Air France-KLM, well, read on…

Cargo woes at Air France-KLM are getting worse. In each of the first three months of 2015, Air France-KLM reported year-over-year declines in air cargo traffic of between 8% and 9%. Bad enough, but in April things got worse, and the carrier reported cargo traffic down 14.9% to 703 million RTKs. Air France-KLM is in the process of shrinking its freighter fleet, and said main-deck capacity was down 30% y-o-y in April. But total cargo capacity was down only 7.0%, so there is more involved here than just capacity reduction. For the first four months of 2015, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was down 10.0%

Lufthansa Cargo reported April traffic up 7.2% y-o-y to 680 million RTKs — not quite enough to pull the carrier into positive territory for the year to date, but at least was an indication that Lufthansa is turning things around on the cargo front. For the Lufthansa Group as a whole, April cargo traffic was up 5.2% to 806 million RTKs. The gain was driven by a 10.5% increase in traffic on the trans-Atlantic lane to 383 million RTKs, and a 7.5% increase in traffic to/from the Middle East & Africa to 65 million RTKs. Traffic to/from the Asia-Pacific region was effectively flat (up 0.1%) with April 2014 at 349 million RTKs. For the first four months of 2015, Lufthansa Cargo reported traffic down slightly (0.3%) to 2.69 billion RTKs, while the Lufthansa Group’s cargo traffic was down 0.2% to 3.21 billion RTKs.

International Airlines Group reported April cargo traffic up 1.9% y-o-y to 440 million RTKs. The growth came entirely on the back of 16.0% growth in cargo traffic at subsidiary carrier Iberia to 87 million RTKs, while traffic at IAG’s larger British Airways subsidiary was down 1.1% to 353 million RTKs in April. We point out, however, that April 2014 was the last month that BA’s fleet included three 747-8 freighters ACMI-leased from Atlas Air, so May will be the first month in which year-over-year comparisons can be made on a like-for-like basis. For the year through April, IAG Cargo’s traffic was down 2.7% to 1.75 billion RTKs.

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